27 July 2011


Mom with Lazarus, Sept. 2002, Philadelphia

Dad, Mom, Laz, and Maggie, May 2008

One year ago today I awoke before dawn and raced 100 miles north to catch the earliest flight out of ABQ so I could be at my mom's side in Philadelphia as she died. In my mind every moment of that day, especially her final struggling moments, stands starkly apart from the rest of life. As the mental shroud of denial mercifully draped over me in the days that followed, I recall both breathtaking pangs of loss and a sense that she was just out on an errand and would come through the door at any moment. I remember thinking at some particular moment that I was doing okay, then I would hear someone speak of cancer or see a pink/blue/purple awareness ribbon bumper sticker and just dissolve. Awareness? All too much, all too keening, really to the point of paralysis because Mom's cancer bore down mercilessly, swiftly felling any thin shoots of hope and scorching bare the earth that bore them.

One year later, I feel I have mourned -- not completely (no such thing, I believe), but mindfully and thoroughly, to arrive at wherever I'm "supposed" to be after this first year. I still dream of her mystical reappearance. I still lament not only my own loss but the kids', and the flourishing gardens she does not gaze upon, and my new internship experiences we do not discuss, and my graduation next year she will not witness. I lament the loss of time with her. Do I honor her by lamenting? Probably not, because as I read through some poetry last night this verse jumped out at me as essentially Mom. So I'll honor my own process by continuing it and I'll honor Mom by posting this as a tribute to the joyful, colorful spirit that dwelled within her and remains with us.

Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;
Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the winepress;
Utter no sigh of agony, but draw upon my face with your
Finger the symbol of Love and Joy.
Disturb not the air's tranquility with chanting and requiems,
But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;
Mourn me not with apparel of black,
But dress in color and rejoice with me;
Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts; close
Your eyes and you will see me with you forevermore.
         -Khalil Gibran, "The Beauty of Death"


mairedodd said...

what a beautiful and heart wrenching post - but i can think of no more moving a tribute than the words of khalil gibran... peace...

stregata said...

Sending you a big hug. My dad has been gone for over 45 years, and while I have stopped dreaming of his magical reappearance, I am still saddened by all the bits of my life I couldn't share with him.
Thank you for sharing that poem...

Beadroe said...

It is a very long journey the one of grief. I lost my mom to cancer almost 6 years ago, and I still burst into tears occasionally.

lisa said...

A more beautiful tribute, there could not be.

Noemi said...

What a precious poem! So beautiful and true!
I know what cancer does to a family and it is a hard to live witouth our loved ones that have lost their battle against cancer, but have won eternal life.
I feel for you and like so many more people please accept positive thinkings your way, or in my case prayers for you.

A big hug from Spain.

Veronica said...

a wonderful written memorial to your mother. just found your blog and glad i did. nice to meet you!